BlogWatcher - The instinct to protect 'brother priests'

BY MICHAEL MULLINS

America guest blogger Michael Orsi writes on what he sees as the maligning of Mgr William J. Lynn, former Philadelphia Archdiocesan Secretary for the Clergy.

Lynn (pictured) has been sentenced to 3-6 years in prison for child endangerment because he reassigned “predator priests” rather than remove them from ministry. Orsi  admits Lynn was guilty but argues that he was the fall guy because he was a “team player”.

Bill Lynn was my classmate. I have known him for forty years. He is a good man and a good priest. Unfortunately, he was also a good soldier who did what Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, his archbishop at the time, told him to do.

Being a team player is important for any organisation. It is a vital part of the clerical lifestyle. Camaraderie is strongly impressed upon priests. We often refer to our fellow priests as our brothers. The fact is that we do have a real dependency on each other since we do not have an immediate family of our own.

Gerard Henderson devotes much of his latest Media Watch Dog blog to documenting the pursuit of Cardinal George Pell by “disillusioned current or former Catholics” at the ABC, including a “gratuitous attempt to link Pell to a sexual misconduct allegation”. 

The suggestion is that “the ABC should be regarded as hostile territory for Catholics who follow the teachings of the Vatican”. He continues the theme of his 17 July Sydney Morning Herald column in which he asserts that Cardinal Pell should never have appeared in the 2 July Four Corners program “Unholy Silence”. He details

Four Corners’ deceit about Cardinal Pell’s responsibility for events outside the Archdiocese of Sydney – and its gratuitous attempt to link Pell to a sexual misconduct allegation concerning which he had been emphatically cleared ... 

Among other documentation, there is Sydney Archdiocese Communications Director Katrina Lee’s unpublished letter to the Sydney Morning Herald of 20 July in which she implies that the ABC implicated Cardinal Pell in sexual abuse dealings by screening an interview with him rather than those whose authority was relevant. Henderson’s conclusion:

Four Corners declined to report Cardinal Pell’s comment that he is not the “general manager” of the Catholic Church in Australia in a longer version of the Thompson/Pell interview which it placed on the Four Corners website.  In view of the fact that there was no space problem involved, this was – and remains – a clear act of censorship on Four Corners’ behalf.

Gerard does leave space for some entertaining trivia concerning the Cardinal and his past prowess on the football field and whether the notion that he could punch an AFL football more than 50 meters is fact or myth. 

The blog of the Irish Association of Catholic Priests republishes a John Cornwall article from The Tablet on conflicting trends among Catholics seeking the sacrament of Confession. While young Catholics queue in their hundreds to receive one to one absolution at World Youth Days, one rural Oxfordshire priest says 

no one has come to confession for 10 years. Another in a Midlands industrial district reports that he never gets more than two penitents on a Saturday evening.

Aside from practice, there is also wide variation in the teaching.

A recent convert informant, instructed in a trad­itionalist mode, has been taught that missing Mass is a serious sin requiring absolution before receiving the Eucharist. In contrast, a pastor of a large East End of London parish tells me that he never speaks of sin. “We have encouraged teenagers in our local Catholic school to see Reconciliation as an opportunity to talk about their experience of life, and their difficulties.”

Andrew Sullivan’s blog The Dish has an interesting observation in a post titled “The Sin of Depression”.

This sense of depression’s stigmatisation comes to us from the Middle Ages, when a religious tradition, familiar then but only a muscle memory to us now, identified depression as a type of sin. Called “acedia” or “wanhope” (literally, “faint hope”), it was considered a subset of the deadly sin of sloth. Its major feature was a loss of faith in one’s own worthiness of salvation and mercy in the eyes of God.

In another post, Sullivan publishes figures on the recent statistical decline of the faith in Ireland.

In 2005, when this poll was last conducted, 69% of Irish defined themselves as religious, 25% as non-religious, and 3% as convinced atheists. In 2011, those same numbers stood at just 47% religious, 44% non-religious and 10% atheist. In other words, in just six years, one in every five Irish people has given up religion, which is enough to vault Ireland into the top 10 nations worldwide with the most atheists. 

Finally v2catholic pays tribute to its esteemed 88 year old blogger Brian Lewis, on his retirement from blogging. The editor says Lewis “always applied Gospel  teaching to particular situations with the compassion that Jesus showed  to those in difficulty”. Dr Lewis is “one of Australia’s most eminent theologians”, a graduate of the Angelicum and Alphonsian Academy in Rome, and a former lecturer in moral theology at ACU in Ballarat and Melbourne. The archive of his posts is here.


Michael MullinsMichael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every week.

Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.

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